Last week I had a moment where I realized how... unpleasant I've been, to put it nicely. As I read through several psalms that talked about praising the Lord, singing praises to His name, I cringed a little inside as the reality of how little I've done that struck me. 

Being a [tired] new mom has certainly contributed to this, but ultimately it's my heart that is just gross, and this season of life is simply causing my sin to be manifested in a new way. (I have to add, I am incredibly blessed to have a baby who sleeps well and has made the transition to motherhood remarkably smooth. I could be far more tired than I am, this much I know.)

Then the words of the popular verse in Philippians resounded in my mind, to "rejoice always." Man, was that sobering. It doesn't say,

"rejoice when you get enough sleep!" 
"Rejoice when you're healthy!" 
"Rejoice when you get to finish your to-do list!" "
"Rejoice only when everything is going smoothly and just as you hoped!"

Ugh. How easy it is for me to rejoice when the above circumstances are true. But how poorly I meet this command when they aren't. 

This past week I got my second cold of the month. Let me just say, being sick is a whole different ballgame when you're a mom. I wasn't sleeping well and neither was my little girl. With two tissues shoved up my nose I was awake in the middle of the night nursing her, barely able to breathe. With my husband at work, I tried my best to love on her without getting her sick, to keep the house from completely falling apart, and to attempt to nap whenever she was.

Quite frankly, I felt like I was drowning. Drowning in a pool of demands I didn't have the capacity to meet. Drowning in how I felt emotionally and physically.

I forced myself to spend some time in God's word, for I knew it would be the only thing that could bring peace and sanity to my heart. 

And as if a spotlight were shining down on me, I realized, "I have been a total crank. I haven't felt joyful and therefore haven't chosen joy. I have not been rejoicing in the Lord." To my precious husband, I am so sorry, I know I was far from pleasant to be around this last week or two. 

I've had a blank frame on the shelf in our living room for a few months. I immediately took it down and sketched "rejoice always" to remind myself daily of the attitude I want to have. To say to myself, "Niki,

REJOICE when your nose is running and you're going through a box of tissues per day. 
REJOICE when you finally lay down to nap and your baby cries. 
REJOICE when the pile of dirty laundry is now as high as the clean laundry that needs folded and put away.
REJOICE when you're tired and don't feel well-rested. 
REJOICE when things don't go how you imagined."

Now that's not to say just pretend like everything is better than it is or to simply put on a happy face. Because part of rejoicing is accepting your current reality, not wishing for a different one. I believe the Lord is more glorified in me choosing to rejoice in those moments than when everything is going according to [my] plan.

For it is in these times I am painfully, yet gently, reminded of my deep need for Jesus. I desperately want to live a life that chooses joy, not complaining. To be a wife, mama, and woman who radiates the love of Christ, no matter what is going on around her.

For in each circumstance, I have something to be grateful for. Such as having a warm house to be in when I'm sick, the fact that God entrusted this little human to me to take care of, that I have a comfortable bed to lay in.. and the list could go on.

Lord, create in me a joyful heart, that can praise you in any storm, big or small. That chooses each morning to orient my heart and mouth to be lined up with your Word, not my emotions.

How thankful I am for your grace when I inevitably fall short of such a prayer. Regardless, I can be joyful for I know the greatest source of life, hope and joy is found in the unchanging, steadfast God of the universe, and not in my circumstances.